Monday, 27 December 2010

Monday quote

True prayer is the most exciting thing in the world; it is an awesome thing to dialogue with the living God.

Leanne Payne

Saturday, 25 December 2010

God will reward the least

I think it will be interesting to see who is honoured in heaven; many who are considered of small importance in this world, those who faithfully discharged the duties which God has given them. While some well-known men will be rewarded, remember to whom much has been given much is expected. So examples people like George Muller and John Wesley may be rewarded handsomely for their kingdom work, other famous Christians may barely get in, and some may just have the appearance of belief and so will be rejected by Christ.

But I like to think of watching God give his gifts to those that many have never heard of. How God in his justice and goodness will reward those with little ability yet discharged this faithfully.
  • The mother who devoted her life to raising a disabled child and caring for him throughout his life.
  • The slave who had no option of freedom yet worked as for the Lord.
  • The mistreated person who never received justice in this life yet refused bitterness and trusted in God.
And there are many, many more. Those who are never recognised in this world. And Jesus will welcome them into heaven offering them the best places at the feast for all the universe to witness.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Monday quote

You seem to have made the elementary mistake of thinking that shouting “crap” can falsify a valid argument.

Matthew Flannagan

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Inerrancy and belief structures

J.P. Moreland addresses inerrancy in his article The Rationality of Belief in Inerrancy in the Trinity Journal 7.1 (Spring 1986): 75-86. He has some interesting thoughts on why occasion difficulties with the text should not lead one to abandon inerrancy. Rather a less plausible inerrant reconstruction of a difficult text may be rationally preferred over a more plausible errant reconstruction if one otherwise has good reason to believe in inerrancy
An interpretation of a problem passage that harmonizes it with another text, and thus preserves inerrancy, may not be as rational as an interpretation that admits an error in the text, if one only considers this particular problem in isolation from other epistemically relevant considerations. But if one considers the depth of ingression of inerrancy as well, then the rationality of preserving belief in inerrancy in one’s noetic structure (as opposed to denying it and having to readjust a large part of one’s structure) can justify suspending judgment or believing a harmonization.
That a person does not change his entire belief structure every time he gains new information is not irrational
The defender of inerrancy is not being irrational in calling for suspension of judgment, etc. because of the depth of ingression of belief in inerrancy. At the very least, critics of the rationality of inerrancy should consider this before they criticize as irrational the various attempts to harmonize passages and the like.
The article as more useful for its arguments about the nature of belief as it is for its defence of inerrancy.

Such refusal to modify one's belief with minor unexplainable facts does not mean that one's belief can never change. We know that our knowledge is limited. Contrary evidence may appear contrary on the surface, yet we may lack even further information which in fact harmonises a rogue fact with our belief system. But enough contrary evidence can eventually modify our belief structure. This seems similar to Thomas Kuhn's argument about paradigm shifts in science. Moreland draws some parallels with scientific thinking.

So how much contrary evidence is required to overturn a belief structure. Well it depends on how central such a belief is, not so much in terms of conviction, but how many other beliefs are affected. Moreland addresses this earlier in the article, but also the problem that the criteria for rejection of held beliefs is not well defined by individuals.
It could be objected that nowhere have I stated any criteria for knowing when there would be enough problems with inerrancy to justify giving it up. Thus, I cannot rationally claim to know that inerrancy is true.

...As an example, consider a puzzle from the ancient Greeks, known as the sorites problem. Given a small heap of wheat, can I get a large heap by adding one grain? It seems not, for how could one go from a small to a large heap by merely adding one grain. But then it seems that one could add grains of wheat to a small heap and never reach a large heap.

Consider another puzzle. If one gradually changes the shade of a color from red to orange, can one tell when the color changes from red to orange? Probably not. But in the absence of such a criterion, how can I know when I see red or orange?

The problem with both puzzles is this: they assume that in the absence of clear criteria for borderline cases, one cannot have knowledge of clear cases. Without being able to judge when the heap becomes large, I can never know that it is large. Without being able to judge when the color changes to orange, I can never know that it is orange. But the fact is, I can know a large heap or an orange color even if I have no criteria.

I am not dismissing criteria altogether. Indeed, they are important in an overall theory of rationality. But I do not need criteria in all cases to know something.
I would add it depends on whether the new belief system which explains the rogue data also explains data in the old system. Which system if held to be true makes the most sense of all the data and has the least anomalies.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

English school diary omits Christmas

The European commission has produced several hundred thousand diaries for British children and; while including several religious holidays from Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Chinese traditions; it has neglected to mention Christmas day. Somewhat ironic given that the diary was supposedly a Christmas present. The question is whether this was intentional. On the face of it, it would seem likely. What would bolster this claim is if Easter was also left off which, while not entirely clear, seems to be the case. Johanna Touzel said,
Christmas and Easter are important feasts for hundreds of millions of Christians and Europeans. It is a strange omission. I hope it was not intentional.
I do not find this overly surprising. But the episode is useful in highlighting the anti-Christian agenda of many secularists and governments. It is not that multi-culturalists want a pluralist society so much as they are prefer anything so long that it is not Christian. Including Christmas in the next edition would seem the appropriate corrective. Christmas is, after all, a statutory holiday in the UK. But consider their solution
A commission spokesman described the diary as a "blunder" and said that in the interests of political correctness there would no references to any religious festivals in future editions.

"We're sorry about it, and we'll correct that in next edition. Religious holidays may not be mentioned at all to avoid any controversy," he said.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Glory is not a zero sum game

Calvinists make the same error with God's glory, that Marxists do with economics. They both assume it is a zero sum game. Economics can be zero sum if we just transfer wealth, negative sum if we destroy it, or positive sum if we create it.

While I dispute that accepting the gift of salvation is boast-worthy or gives any glory to man, I do not see why any process of glorifying men necessarily diminishes the glory of God. Surely if God redeems man and in the process transforms us from glory to glory, then his own glory is increased. Glory is not a zero sum game. Our increasing glory does not subtract from God's glory, it adds to it.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Faculty of Resentment Studies

Interesting perspective on resentment by Theodore Dalrymple
One way and another, I have spent a lot of my life in the study of resentment, my own and that of others. I doubt whether there is any human being who has passed his life totally without feeling it; I know of many who, on the contrary, have spent their whole lives nourishing it.
And he concludes it is detrimental, potentially infinite, needs to be consciously rejected, and is "fundamentally egotistical".

Though what I found amusing was his connection to education
But another cause of resentment, I feel sure (though I cannot prove, again because of the deficiencies of character bequeathed me by my parents) is the spread of tertiary education, especially in such subjects as sociology, psychology, and anything to which the word ‘studies’ may be attached. Indeed, it seems to me that they might all usefully be joined in one great faculty, to be called the Faculty of Resentment Studies. It would undoubtedly be the largest faculty in any self-respecting university, and would easily pay for itself. Professors of Resentment could teach such subdivisions of their subject as the art of rationalisation, rhetorical exaggeration, preservation of a lack of perspective, suppression of a sense of irony or humour, and so on and so forth. Of course, entry requirements would be minimal. All you would have to do to gain entry is to denigrate your parents at a public examination, and there could hardly be found a child nowadays not able to do that.

Over the entrance to the faculty will be written not the motto of the Academy, ‘Know thyself,’ but rather ‘Talk about thyself,’ ‘Reveal nothing,’ ‘Remember that there is always someone better off than you’ and, above all, ‘Distinguish not between unfairness and injustice.’

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Does God need to send men to hell for his glory?

I do not see why this should be so. I see no diminution of God's glory if all men are ultimately saved (though this will not be the case). For surely God's glory is all the greater if men who were hell-bound now belong to the kingdom of heaven. Is God's glory not demonstrated more in his salvation of sinners than his condemnation of them?

You may argue that God needs to send men to hell to manifest the glory of his justice. That justice is an attribute that is glorified by its execution. But surely laying our sins on Jesus manifests God's justice more than any human cast into the lake of fire. And if this is so, there is no need for any man to be condemned for the sake of God's glorious justice.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Monday quote

The whole truth is generally the ally of virtue; a half-truth is always the ally of some vice.

GK Chesterton

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Praying for our enemies

Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies. While we can pray for protection, and that God will execute justice when we are being mistreated, the implication of Jesus' words is that we are praying for goodness in the lives of our enemies.
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44)
Leanne Payne gives some suggestions on how we can pray for our enemies. She says that our prayer for ourselves in such situations is: for endurance in persecution, for the ability to love from God, and that we will not act in a sinful way that brings our enemy harm.

Her principles for praying for our enemies are to ask that:
  1. The eyes of all who surround these people will be opened to see the situation as it really is.
  2. Their associates will be given ways to speak truth and light into the situation.
  3. Any demonic power within these people or situations manifest itself—that it may be clearly discerned and seen by all.
  4. What can be salvaged (in the situation and the lives of your enemies) be saved, humbled, and blessed by the Spirit of God.
She recommends prayer for those engaging such people, and suggests that much damage is done to evil when truth is revealed.


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